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Social media platforms are generating a mixed response from regional parties, even as the BJP and the Congress jostle for maximum eyeballs in cyberspace. While some regional parties are enthusiastic, others, especially in the Hindi belt, are lukewarm to new-age platforms.
Odisha’s ruling party, Biju Janata Dal (BJD), became the latest to join the web-enthusiast bandwagon by opening a Twitter account. While BJD already had a website, Naveen Patnaik wanted an enhanced social media presence keeping in mind the upcoming polls, party sources said. BJD’s current tweets are focussed on post-cyclone relief operations in Odisha.
“We acknowledge that social media has a tremendous reach. Our website provides the latest content. We do have plans to expand in social media before the elections and rope in more operators,” says CPI(M) central committee member Nilotpal Basu whose party in West Bengal had eyed both globalization and computerization with almost equal contempt three decades ago.
Top CPI(M) leaders like Prakash Karat or Sitaram Yechury have opted against personal social media accounts. But staunch rival Mamata Banerjee decided to take her maa- mati-manush to the social media after distancing herself from the UPA last year. Her FB page enjoys 4,25,762 ‘likes’—more than the Congress’ revamped page, liked by 336,211 surfers.
The Hindi-heartland parties, however, have a limited interest in social media. Bihar CM Nitish Kumar hasn’t tweeted since 2012. The websites of both major political forces in UP lack regular updates. BSP boss Mayawati and SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav are absent on Twitter. Yadav’s son and UP CM Akhilesh Yadav, however, is a regular on Twitter.
“In the backdrop of our state, social media is hardly relevant. I do not think we are at a political disadvantage for not being aggressive on social media,” says JD(U) leader Shivanand Tiwari.